Alps Alpine Co. Ltd., an Auburn Hills-based manufacturer of electronic components and automotive infotainment systems, and its domestic marketing division Alpine Electronics of America Inc. are introducing what they call the “pinnacle of car audio” — AlpineF#1Status.
Developed through the culmination of knowledge and technical expertise gathered over the years as a premium sound system supplier, AlpineF#1Status is a complete premium car audio system that embodies Alpine’s vision of “Emotion in Mobility,” by delivering what the company describes as “an unparalleled music experience.”
“It provides listeners with the emotional experience of a live performance, transforming a space used for transportation into a superior acoustic environment,” the company says.
AlpineF#1Status, according to Alps Alpine is the first in the industry to achieve 384kHz/32bit high-resolution audio playback, the highest recording spec possible in a car audio system. This is more than 17 times the amount of digital audio data in a standard CD (44.1kHz/16bit).
Audio is reproduced with a level of quality that is not possible with CDs and allows listeners to experience music details that were previously exclusive to a live performance, such as the breath of the artist and subtle interactions with instruments. The AlpineF#1Status promises to allow listeners to experience recording studio-level sound within a vehicle.
To create accurate sound reproduction, development was focused on three parameters:
- Time scale synchronization of audio signal transmission
- Sound arrival
- Custom tone frequency range of a four-way speaker system
High-resolution audio is reproduced by incorporating frequency ranges that cannot be heard by the human ear. This provides a richer expression in high tonal ranges, expanding the sense of detail and depth of the music. Additionally, high-resolution audio reproduction is clean sound with minimal distortion, even when the music is played at high volumes.
Until recently, the head unit, used for audio source playback, and the audio processor, used for tuning, were separate systems due to the limited environment and installation space in the vehicle cabin. For this reason, it was necessary for each device handling digital signals to have an independent crystal (clock) to process the signals and timing of each component. This causes deviations in the digital signal called “jitter” (clocking errors), which affects the quality of the audio playback. The Master Clock Management System in the AlpineF#1Status system was developed to resolve this.
At the Master Clock Managements System’s core, the OCXO DuCULoN, boasts the world’s highest level of frequency precision completely synchronizing the transmission between the head unit and the audio processor with a single clock. This reduces the amount of jitter in the audio transmission.
Used for the first time in a car audio system, OCXO is a crystal oscillator with temperature control system. It enhances audio precision with a design containing two crystals housed in a dedicated case with enhanced heat insulation that increases the frequency-temperature characteristic from ±50ppm (parts per million) to ±0.1ppb (parts per billion) through an automated temperature control system.
To fully utilize this high-precision device, it is configured to be directly supplied as a Digital to Analog (DA) conversion clock to the ES9038PRO DAC used to achieve 384kHz/32bit playback. This minimizes audio quality deterioration caused by clock jitter and provides a configuration that reaches the full potential of high-resolution audio.
In traditional car audio systems, the distance to the listener is asymmetrical on the left and right depending on the speaker placement and seat positioning, thereby requiring high-precision tuning to optimize sound quality.
AlpineF#1Status is equipped with four premium digital sound processors running up to 1GHz/64bit, delivering processing capability of a high-power computer CPU to achieve accurate sound tuning. This enables AlpineF#1Status to perform time alignment adjustments with a precision of approximately 0.9mm, improving from the equivalent of approximately 7.2mm which is the smallest unit possible in existing products.
Conventional speakers are made with materials and a structure suited to the entire playback frequency band, while component speaker systems are made up of materials and structures designed for its individual frequency band. For example, thin diaphragms are lightweight and suitable for playback of high-speed high notes but have reduced rigidity. Meanwhile, highly rigid diaphragms are suitable for low notes, but they are thick and heavy, and not suitable for playback of high notes.
AlpineF#1Status uses high-performance carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in each speaker that completely synchronizes the speaker’s tone by unifying the diaphragm material of each speaker. CFRP is lightweight, like plastic, yet highly rigid like aluminum. This aerospace material is versatile enough to be used for frequencies ranging from low to ultra-high range and results in the best diaphragm design to achieve the performance of the full specification of high-resolution audio.
The surrounds of the speakers incorporate a proprietary “double gathered edge” delivering audio quality that supports high-resolution audio. Combining Alpine patented speaker technologies, including DDDrive, DDLinear, and DualEmission magnetic circuits, reduce distortion between speakers by accurately transforming the incoming electrical signal into cone movement. As a result, the playback frequency of each AlpineF#1Status speaker covers a wider range than ever before, enabling a wider cross-over for each system component, the company says.
Introduction of AlpineF#1Status will begin with the launch of a new demo vehicle, which will tour the U.S. in the summer of 2022. Sales will start in fall. Details are provided on www.alpine-usa.com.